There are six candidates in the running for this year’s Alumni Elected Regent election. We had the honor of interviewing each candidate in an effort to better understand their desire to become a Baylor University Regent, as well as their experience at Baylor as both a student and alumni.
Baylor’s Board of Regents needs leaders with proven background and experience to address the many challenges facing the University. I feel that I have those qualifications, and I have deep love and respect for Baylor. My past leadership experience includes:
President of the State Bar of Texas;
President of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers;
President of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association;
Regent of the American College of Trial Lawyers;
Chair of the Texas Cultural Trust;
Chair of the Baylor Scott & White Hospital’s Central Operating
Division and its Foundation; and
Service on the State 4-H Foundation Board.
Unfortunately, Baylor is facing much pending litigation. I have spent my professional career resolving disputes. I have tried approximately 200 jury verdicts and have represented individuals and corporations. I was the lead or co-lead trial counsel in most of the litigation involving the Estate of Howard Hughes, including representation of the Estate. I have also represented the Houston Astros and other McLane Companies owned by my life-long friend and fellow classmate from Yoe High School in Cameron.
I have represented Baylor in several past legal matters and continue to provide advice and counsel to our General Counsel’s office on pending problems.
I remain deeply grateful that my life was changed after becoming the first recipient of a full four-year academic scholarship to Baylor awarded by the Citizens National Bank of Waco.
While a student I received the Outstanding Debater Award and was in the marching and concert bands.
I was named an Outstanding Baylor Alumni and Baylor Lawyer of the year. I also served as President of the Law School student body.
I feel that I can also bring to the Board practical business experience I have had as past Co-Owner of Southwest lnfiniti, Clear Lake lnfiniti and Cytex Plastics, Inc. in Houston, and the creation and operation of a successful principled law firm.
I began my service as a Baylor Regent after terminations and other dramatic changes had already been made in both the Administration and Athletic Department Leaderships. Many other changes have been made since then in how the Board of Regents is composed and how it operates. I have served as Vice Chair of the Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Committee and as a member of the Academic Affairs Committee.
Throughout my adult life I have desired the opportunity to serve as a Regent of Baylor University, and I will be grateful for the opportunity to continue, as a Regent, to restore a full measure of the honor and respect that Baylor so richly deserves.
How is the mission of Baylor University unique?
Baylor’s mission “to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community” is unique in that it is not “just words”, but is a continuous devoted effort to teach and instruct students and faculty that Christian principles should be the standard by which we live our lives, raise our families and engage with others in our business and professional relationships.
Few Universities have comparable programs and values.
What was your experience like as a student at Baylor?
As a student at Baylor I was fortunate to receive instructions and learn from many outstanding professors in both undergraduate and Law School. It was a very busy time in my life. I was on the Debate Team for three years and played an instrument in the marching and concert bands. I worked a portion of each day at the Citizens National Bank of Waco, who had made me their first recipient of a full four-year academic scholarship. I graduated with honors in both undergraduate and law school. I was elected President of the law school student body.
As a result of my experience as a student at Baylor, I developed a deep appreciation for academics, history and music. I have endowed scholarships for undergraduates and law students. The Baylor School of Music now has “The Wayne Fisher Jazz Program” permanently endowed. I was honored to serve as the Chair of the Texas Cultural Trust and also as a member of the Board of Directors of the Houston Symphony Orchestra.
I have many fond memories of my days as a student at Baylor University and deep appreciation for the educational and cultural background it provided.
What have been the most encouraging changes at Baylor over the last few years?
There have been a number of encouraging changes at Baylor over the last few years. The “makeup” of the Board of Regents has been increased to help better represent the faculty, students and alumni. There is more transparency and less restrictions on Regents which allows them to be more fully informed about the challenges Baylor faces and to help each Regent determine what Baylor needs to become a “Top Tier” University.
Baylor has implemented all 105 recommendations made in the “Pepper – Hamilton Report” and has continued to provide and improve counseling services for its students.
There is increased awareness that the Board of Regents needs to set and monitor policies and then rely upon the administration to be responsible for the daily operations of the University. The quality of the prospective students applying for admission to Baylor continues to improve. Dr. Linda Livingstone is providing strong and competent leadership as the President of the University.
While far from perfection, Baylor and its Board are making positive progress, and every effort needs to be made to provide more transparency in how and why critical decisions are made.
What strengths would you bring to the table as an alumni-elected Regent?
As a former officer of the Baylor Alumni Association I fought vigorously the efforts to destroy and eliminate its existence. I understand and sympathize with the frustrations and anger our alumni feel about the dictatorial, judgmental attitudes of prior Board leaders and will continue to help bring about changes in the structure of the Board of Regents and increased transparency of its operations.
My strengths as an alumni-elected Regent would include a deep understanding of the reasons for Baylor’s current legal and other difficulties. My past years of proven leadership and efforts to represent Baylor’s interests by approaching problems with an open mind, including a willingness to hear and respect divergent opinions will help in resolving the serious issues we face. I will continue to urge full and open communication between our Board, our alumni and our extended Baylor family. Hopefully, these efforts, along with God’s help, will lead to restoration of the respect and loyal admiration Baylor so richly deserves.